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狮子与羔羊:天国的景象

作者:道格·巴契勒 牧师日期:2017-01-06 12:30:45浏览数:3695
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奇妙真相:上世纪50年代末,市动物园内的一头小狮崽,因遭到母狮的袭击而受伤,于是被维斯特布一家所收养,并改名为“小淘气”。这家人用牛奶来喂养小淘气,直至它的身体得以复原。这时,他们开始尝试给小淘气喂生肉——狮子的食物,结果小淘气却一口不动。奇妙的是,这头小狮子只吃蔬菜、谷物、鸡蛋和牛奶。当然,很多人说“小淘气”如果不吃肉肯定活不长。于是他们在她的牛奶中加入了一点血,可她不肯喝。虽然她完全讨厌吃肉,但这只平和的狮子却过着充实的生活。她从未吃过肉,却长得高大雄壮。

你能想象吗?一只素食的狮子,这简直令人难以置信。但圣经却大胆地应许:在新天新地中,动物就是如此:“狮子必吃草与牛一样。”(赛65:25)

我相信,天国中的狮子将是素食动物,因为这是上帝说的。不但如此,我也相信圣经向我们所指明的,更多关于那永恒国度的事。今天,在这祸患连绵、死亡不断的世代中,让我们停下来想一想上帝对祂子民的最终应许——天国的降临。我想,这是非常重要的,因为它会为我们今日所生存的这一黑暗罪恶的世界,带来些许鼓励和宁静。

新与旧

在以赛亚书65:17节,上帝应许:“看哪,我造新天新地。”那么,接下来,就让我们先来看看天国的物理属性。启示录说:“我又看见一个新天新地,因为先前的天地已经过去了,海也不再有了。”(21:1)

在这里,约翰要我们知道,天国中将不会再有如今的大海。但这并不意味着不再有水——我们知道那里有一条河——这条河的水不是会刺痛眼睛、不能饮用的咸水。我确信,天国有美丽的水域,但不像现今会将亲人分隔的浩瀚海洋。我想那将是由上帝的生命之河所灌溉的湖泊与池塘,到处都是大花园!

如我所提,所有动物都极其温顺。“豺狼必与羊羔同食,狮子必吃草与牛一样,尘土必作蛇的食物。在我圣山的遍处,这一切都不伤人、不害物。”(赛65:25)上帝应许,动物既不伤人、也不害物;没有人会被捕食。事实上,我之所以会成为一名素食主义者,其中一个原因就是,不仅科学支持素食是人体最佳的健康计划,而且我觉得,现在就去适应天国的饮食,确实是个好主意!

当然,我们不能不提到作为上帝在地球上的新京都——新耶路撒冷的荣耀。在启示录21和22章中,都有对它的描述。它的美丽超乎想象。城墙是由碧玉所造,有十二根基,每一个都是由不同类型的宝石制成,如蓝宝石和绿宝石,我想,它们将如同美丽彩虹一般。

撒迦利亚书8:5节告诉我们,城中街道是金子做的,孩子们在上面玩耍。我喜欢约翰的描述:“城内的街道是精金,好像明透的玻璃。”(启21:21)约翰一定会在大脑中寻找最合适的词语,来形容他所看到的景象。事实上,黄金按纯度的不同,可分为不同等级。显然,约翰所看到的,是最纯粹的黄金,看上去几乎是透明温润的。

当我听到“城市”这个词语时,脑海中出现的画面,大都不太好。我出生在洛杉矶,成长于纽约,生活在伯班克和伦敦。我其实很讨厌城市!但上帝的城市,新耶路撒冷,就完全不同。它不像我们现在的城市。你不需要锁门或担心有任何形式的暴力或污染。这是一座伟大的城市,在千禧年后,被救赎之人将回归到这里。

有些人很想知道,上帝之城是否有足够的空间。历代以来,有这么多被救赎的人要进入天国,那一定会很拥挤吧。不会的,因为这座城市非常巨大!它的面积如俄勒冈州,每边大约有600公里。每个人都有足够多的空间。

而且那里不再有咒诅。荆棘和蒺藜是始于罪进入世界。耶稣头上所带的荆棘冠冕,象征了上帝在伊甸园中所发的咒诅,它将永远结束。

天国的应许

当你想到那全新的地球上一切美好事物时,最令你兴奋的是什么?在耶稣被钉十字架前,祂用以下的应许安慰门徒:“你们心里不要忧愁,你们信上帝,也当信我。在我父的家里有许多住处;若是没有,我就早已告诉你们了。我去原是为你们预备地方去。我若去为你们预备了地方,就必再来接你们到我那里去;我在那里,叫你们也在那里。”(约14:1-3)

上帝正在为我们每个人预备住处,多么令人兴奋!这让我想起上帝为人类最初预备的——伊甸园。那个美丽的家园,是上帝亲手为亚当和夏娃设立的。(创2:8)我相信,上帝定会恢复在人类堕落以先所应许我们的一切。这个特别的花园,将是新耶路撒冷的中央公园,在那里,我们要享受一个无罪的新世界中的生活。

上帝的承诺肯定会兑现,只是时间问题。我们每个人,都应期盼上帝的这个美好应许。遗憾的是,现今有许多对天国景象的描述,都是一群坐在云端上的精灵,它们头戴光环,弹奏着金色的竖琴。但这并非圣经所应许我们的天国画面,更别提它有多么乏味了。我们需要努力研究上帝所说关于天国的话语,就像自己是那即将落户于这个新家的居民一般。

对于天国美好的应许,还有好多值得我们期待的。接下来,让我与你分享,上帝对你未来家园的三个特别的保证:

无瑕的身体

你有过生病的经历吗?是否有永难愈合的伤痛,或是正在与癌症抗争?是否有因患疾病而离去的亲人?

圣经说,有一天:“那等候耶和华的,必从新得力。他们必如鹰展翅上腾,他们奔跑却不困倦,行走却不疲乏。”(赛40:31)我万分期盼那拥有永恒力量的一天!不仅如此,约翰说:“上帝要擦去他们一切的眼泪,不再有死亡,也不再有悲哀、哭号、疼痛,因为以前的事都过去了。”(启21:4)试想一下,不再有疾病、葬礼、医院、墓地、悲剧、失望和烦恼。多么美好啊!

从某种角度看,去猜想我们拥有全新身体之后所要过的奇妙生活,似乎是愚蠢的。我们无法想象上帝所安排的一切。我猜祂对每个人都有特别的待遇升级。现在不会唱歌的人,将会在那天领唱天国的诗班。行走不便的,会变成奔跑最快的人。听力有困难的,将会听到最细微的声音。

圣经对此描述说:“那时瘸子必跳跃像鹿;哑巴的舌头必能歌唱。”(赛35:6)每一得救的人,在身体的各个方面都会得以完全。聋子能听,瞎子可见,瘸子会跑。我敢肯定,在天国中,我的头发会像押沙龙的头发一样浓密。你在此生的身体缺陷,将在那里得以补足。

完全的智力

那时,我们的心态又会怎样呢?还会有困扰这个世界的问题关系吗?约翰说:“胆怯的、不信的、可憎的、谋杀的、淫乱的、行巫术的、拜偶像的…和一切说谎话的”都不复存在。(启21:8)接着,他又补充道:“凡不洁净的,并那行可憎与虚谎之事的,总不得进那城。”(27节)在天国,绝不会有邪恶之事,不再有现今的罪恶念头或奸诈的阴谋。

听到这,也许很多人又会觉得,那天国不就成为一个了然无趣的地方了。但圣经告诉我们:“在祢右手中有永远的福乐。”(诗16:11)保罗也写道,在天国:“上帝为爱祂的人所预备的,是眼睛未曾看见,耳朵未曾听见,人心也未曾想到的。”(林前2:9)因此,觉得自己会变成肥胖的小天使,在天国弹竖琴的人们,实在是被人们的想象而非圣经的教导所误导了。所以他们才会说:我实在无法想像,自己会去到那样一个无聊的地方。

相反,圣经说:“他们要建造房屋,自己居住;栽种葡萄园,吃其中的果子。他们建造的,别人不得住;他们栽种的,别人不得吃;…我选民亲手劳碌得来的必长久享用。”(赛65:21,22)

我们会研究整个宇宙,不断地学习。当你用望远镜或显微镜看得越仔细,就越能看到上帝所创造的更多完美。在永恒的岁月中,我们将会看到上帝创造的精彩绝伦,我们的思想将永不停止,赞美祂所创造的奇迹。

就个人而言,我期待着在天家歌唱。有时候我不想唱歌,因为我的声音实在是颤抖而跑调。但在天国,我们要和天使一同歌唱,在那里,值得我们歌颂的事物将数之不尽!

我们也会去拜访亲人,会有好多幸福的团聚。你将再次见到渴望已久的所爱之人。我的爷爷虽是犹太人,但他相信耶稣。在他去世前的那天,我们一起祷告,并和他吻别,他说:“道格,我们会在天国相见。”我期待着在那里和有着荣耀身体的他相见!

人们经常问我,“如果我们有新身体,那怎么认出对方?”我总会回答:“在那里,我们的辨识力肯定比现在强得多。”是的,你的祖母将有一个荣耀的身体,但你仍能认出她。我们依然保留联系你我的共同经历和记忆,可以与人分享。

我们还可和天使以及历代的先祖们交流。再和大卫王聊聊,听听他站在巨人歌利亚面前时是什么心情,你不觉得那简直太棒了吗?他是不是一点儿也不发抖?也可以问问亚伯拉罕,在听到上帝要他献上以撒为祭时,他是怎么想的?在天国,我们会有很多问题要问,而他们会一一作答。

属灵的无暇

天国要比你想象的更大、更光明。在那里,每个人都拥有完美的健康和活力。所有人都是善良、友爱、互相信任的。但这些都算不上天国中最美好的事。那时,在我们的特权中,有一件超乎所有,就是得与上帝同在!

圣经说,“看哪,上帝的帐幕在人间。祂要与人同住,他们要作祂的子民;上帝要亲自与他们同在,作他们的上帝。”(启21:3)天父与耶稣,将和我们住在一起。“我未见城内有殿,因主上帝、全能者和羔羊为城的殿。”(22节)上帝就是圣殿,我们会聚集来敬拜祂。我们将亲耳听见祂口中所出的话。你曾否希望回到耶稣所生活的年代,如马利亚一样坐在耶稣脚前,聆听祂的道?在天国,你可以!并且,那时,你与耶稣的时光将是最有质量的,绝不会被打扰。也许需要等上一百万年,才能轮到你,但一定会实现!——单独与耶稣会面,那是值得我们等待的,你觉得呢?

圣经说上帝要欢呼。“耶和华你的上帝是施行拯救、大有能力的主…祂在你中间必因你喜乐而欢呼。”(番3:17)听见天使歌唱,已觉得了不起。但在上帝欢呼时,天使们要停下竖琴,并肃穆而立。你能想象那震撼灵魂的景象吗?

我多么期盼能仰望天父的脸啊!保罗告诉我们,在某一天,这一切将成为现实。“我们如今仿佛对着镜子观看,模糊不清,到那时,就要面对面了。我如今所知道的有限,到那时就全知道,如同主知道我一样。”(林前13:12)从电子邮件沟通,到与朋友面对面视频聊天,这些发展已经令我们感到惊喜,但没有任何事能比得上与上帝面对面的相见!

天国的瑕疵

天国是完美的,但在那里,却仍有一个瑕疵。你也许会问:“什么?天国可是完美的啊!”是的,有一个瑕疵——我们救主手上的钉痕——一个对罪恶的提醒和警示。到那时,天国中的一些人,或许会是那些生活在旧约时代的人。他们会来到基督面前,问:“祢的手怎么了?”耶稣会坐下来,向他们解明他们曾经历过的救赎计划。

你渴望成为永恒国度中的一员吗?圣经应许:“看哪,我站在门外叩门,若有听见我声音就开门的,我要进到他那里去,我与他,他与我一起坐席。”(启3:20)此刻,耶稣正站在你的心门外叩门,请求进入。你不需要等到祂的复临再与祂同在,现在就可以和祂一起。耶稣在哪里,天国就在哪里!虽然要到将来的某一天,我们才能去到那为你我所预备的特别之地,但今日,我们便可藉将耶稣接到心中而预尝天国的滋味。

我和妻子凯伦去过很多国家旅行。我们最喜欢的事,就是研究那些国家不同的风土人情。我们喜欢学习当地的语言,了解他们的穿着,发现他们的美食,以便准备接受新的知识。

朋友,我们乃是在为去另一个世界旅行而作预备。是时候了,应当去学习天国的知识,并预备与耶稣和众天使们在一起。预备,从现在开始!——当你看到耶稣手上的钉痕,并知到那是为了能让我们和祂一同享受永恒而付出的沉重代价时,我们就当开始为天国作准备。耶稣希望你能在天国,祂为你预备了一个特别的地方,你会接受上帝这份无价的救赎之礼吗?


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The Lion and the Lamb: Pictures of Paradise

By Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: In the late 1950s, the Westbeau family adopted a lion cub named Little Tyke after it had been attacked by its mother at a city zoo. The family nursed Little Tyke back to health with milk, and she began to gain strength. But when they tried to feed her what lions normally eat, raw meat, they couldn’t get her to take a bite. Amazingly, the little lion wanted only vegetables, grains, eggs, and milk. Of course, people said Little Tyke could not live long unless she ate meat. So they put a little blood in her milk, but she wouldn’t drink it. She was actually totally revolted by meat. Still, this very peaceful lion ended up living a full life, growing to full stature, without ever eating animal flesh.

A vegetarian lion. Can you imagine that?

It would be almost absurd to think something like this could ever happen, but the Bible boldly promises in the new earth this will be the norm: “The lion shall eat straw like the [ox]” (Isaiah 65:25).

I believe God’s Word that lions will be vegetarian in paradise, but I also believe that this Bible truth says so much more to us about the nature of the coming eternal kingdom. And in this age of constant disaster and unending death, I think it’s good for us to pause a moment to reflect on God’s ultimate promise for His people—the heaven to come—for a little encouragement and rest from the dark and sinful world we live in today.

The Old Versus the New

In Isaiah 65:17, God promises, “For, behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth.” Let’s first look at some of the physical attributes of paradise. Revelation says, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea” (21:1).

Right away, John the Revelator wants us to know that there are no more huge seas in paradise as there are today. That doesn’t mean there’ll be no more water—we know there’s a river of water—it means only that there’s no more briny, undrinkable salt water that stings your eyes. There’ll be beautiful bodies of water, I’m sure, but they will not be the vast oceans that separate loved ones now. I believe it’s going to be watered by lakes and ponds that are irrigated by the river of God—it’s going to look like a park everywhere!

As I’ve already mentioned, all the animals will be tame. “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the [ox]: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 65:25). The Lord promises the animals will neither hurt nor destroy; none will prey upon others. In fact, one reason why I’m such a proponent of vegetarianism is not only because the science supports it as the best health plan for the human body, but I think it’s also a good idea for us to get used to the menu of heaven now!

Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the splendor of New Jerusalem, God’s new headquarters right here on earth. It is described in Revelation 21 and 22. It’s beautiful beyond our imaginations. It has walls made of solid jasper with 12 foundations, each made from a different type of precious stone, such as sapphire and emerald. These gemstones will appear, I imagine, like a beautiful rainbow.

The streets of the city are made of gold on which children will play (Zechariah 8:5). I like how John describes this: “And the street of the city was pure gold, [like] transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). He must have been searching for the right words to describe what he saw. Gold can be graded by different levels of purity. Evidently, what John saw was the purest form of gold, which looks virtually transparent when burnished.

When I hear the word “city,” it doesn’t conjure up the very best images for me. I was born in Los Angeles, grew up in New York, and lived in Burbank and London. I actually loathe cities! But God’s city, the New Jerusalem, is very different. This is the great city the redeemed will return in after the millennium. It is a city unlike our cities today. You won’t have to lock your doors or worry about violence or pollution of any kind.

Some do wonder if there will be enough room in God’s city for them, perhaps crowded with so many redeemed through the ages that it will be quite a squeeze. But this city is huge! It’s as big as the state of Oregon, with about 375 miles on each side. There will be plenty of room for everyone.

Of course, there will be no more curse. Thorns and thistles first appeared because of sin. Symbolized by the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, the curse that God struck the earth with, as told in Genesis, will be gone forever.

Promises of Heaven

When you think about all the wonderful things on the new earth, what really gets you excited? Before He went to the cross, Jesus comforted His disciples with this promise: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1–3).

I am thrilled with the promise that God is preparing a place for each of us. It reminds me of the first place the Lord prepared for mankind—the garden of Eden. This beautiful home was planted by God Himself for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8). I believe God will restore things as He meant them to be before the fall of man. This special garden will be like the Central Park of New Jerusalem, for all of us to enjoy in a new sinless world.

It’s just a matter of time before this promise comes true, and we should all be looking forward to this wonderful pledge from God. Sadly, many picture heaven as a wispy place where ethereal spirits sit around on clouds, wearing halos, and strumming golden harps. But this is not the picture Scripture promises, not to mention it’s rather boring. It’s worth our effort to study what God says heaven will actually be like for those who will populate this new home.

There are other special promises we can look forward to in heaven. Let me share with you three special assurances God has given you about your future home.

You’ll Be Physically Whole

Are you sick? Do you have an injury that never seems to heal? Is there a loved one in your life battling cancer—or who has already lost the battle against some other terrible disease?

The Bible says that someday “they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall ... not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). I look forward to a time when we’ll have eternal energy! More than that, John says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Just think: no more sickness, no more funerals, no more hospitals, no tragedy, or disappointments, or trouble. There’ll be no more cemeteries.

In some ways, it seems silly to even speculate about all the amazing things we will enjoy with our new bodies. We can’t imagine what God has prepared for us. I think He’s got special upgrades in mind for everybody. Some who can’t sing now will someday be leading heaven’s choirs. Those who have trouble walking now will be the fastest runners. Some who have trouble hearing will be able to hear the faintest of sounds.

The Bible says, “Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the [silent will] sing” (Isaiah 35:6 NKJV). Every saved person will be physically whole in every way. The deaf will hear, the blind will see, the lame will be able to run. I’m pretty sure I will have thick hair like Absalom when I get to heaven. Any of the physical deficits you have in this life will be more than compensated for when you get there.

You’ll Be Mentally Whole

What about our attitudes? Will there be any of the relationship problems that plague this world? John says, “The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars” will not be there (Revelation 21:8 NKJV). He adds, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles” (v. 27). There will be nothing evil in paradise—no sinister notions or treacherous backstabbing like we have here.

Again, a lot of people have the impression that heaven could eventually become a boring place. Yet the Bible says, “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). Paul writes regarding heaven, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV). So many people have misconceptions that they’ll be transformed into little fat baby cherubs strumming on harps. I don’t even know if I would want to go to a place like that.

Instead, “They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat. … My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:21, 22 NKJV).

We’ll also be able to study the entire cosmos; we’ll never cease learning. The closer you look through a telescope or a microscope, when you look at what God made, you see more perfection. And through the eternal ages, we’ll be looking at the awesome creative genius of God. Our minds will never be able to stop praising Him for the wonders that He’s made.

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to singing in heaven. I’m reluctant to sing sometimes because my voice wavers and I go off key. But in heaven, we’ll sing with the angels. We’ll have so much to sing about!

We’ll also get to visit with our loved ones; we’ll have many blessed reunions. You probably have loved ones you long to see again. Even though my grandpa was Jewish, he believed in Jesus. I prayed with him and kissed him goodbye the day before he died, and he said, “Doug, I’ll see you in heaven.” I’m hoping to see him there with his new glorified body!

People often ask me, “If we have new bodies, how will we recognize anyone?” I always respond, “Will our power of discernment be less there or more than it is here?” Yes, your grandma will have a glorified body, but you’ll still know it’s her. We’ll still have our experiences and memories to share with one another and to unite us in common bonds.

And beyond that, we’ll have the angels and patriarchs to talk with. Won’t it be awesome to speak with King David and hear what it was really like to stand before Goliath? Did he tremble at all? Or how about asking Abraham what it was like when he heard God say to sacrifice his son? We’re going to have a lot of questions in paradise, and they are going to be answered.

You’ll Be Spiritually Whole

Heaven is going to be bigger and brighter than anything you can imagine. Everybody will have perfect health and vigor; everybody will be good and loving. There will be no lack of trust. But none of these things are even the best thing that could happen in heaven. One thing will stand out above all others as our greatest privilege—to be with God.

The Bible says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3 NKJV). Jesus and the Father will make their homes with us. “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple” (v. 22). God Himself is the temple, and we will come together to worship Him. We will hear the Word of God from His own lips. Have you ever wished you could have lived back when Jesus lived and hear Him preach, to sit at His feet as Mary did? You will in heaven! In fact, you’ll be able to have quality, uninterrupted time with Jesus. It might take a million years for you to get your turn, but it will happen. That’s worth the price of admission alone, don’t you think?

The Bible tells us that God will sing. “The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will … rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). It’ll be something to hear the angels sing. But then they’ll all silence their harps and God will sing. Can you imagine how that will thrill your soul?

How I long to look upon the face of my heavenly Father. Paul tells us this will become a reality someday. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV). We think it is so much better to move from emails to video chatting with our friends. But nothing can compare with seeing God face to face!

A Flaw in Heaven

There will be one flaw in heaven. You might ask, “How could that be? Heaven will be perfect!” Yes, it will be. But we will have a reminder of sin—the scars in the hands of our Savior. Some in heaven, perhaps those who lived during Old Testament times, might come to Christ and ask, “What happened to your hands?” Jesus will sit down and explain to them the plan of redemption.

Do you want to be assured a place in the eternal kingdom? The Bible says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV). Jesus is standing at the door of your heart asking to come in right now. You don’t need to wait for the second coming of Christ in order to be with Jesus. You can be with Him right now. Heaven is wherever Jesus is. Even though we will someday go to a special place prepared for us, we can begin enjoying a taste of heaven in the present.

My wife, Karen, and I have traveled to many foreign countries. One of the things we enjoy is studying the customs of the different places we travel. We like to learn a few words, find out how the people dress, and discover what they enjoy eating so we can be prepared to enjoy the new cultures.

Friend, we are getting ready to travel to another world. I think we should begin to learn about heavenly culture in preparation to be with Jesus and all the angels. Getting ready is being ready. That happens when we look at the scars in Jesus’ hands and realize that He has paid the price so that we can enjoy eternity with Him. Jesus wants you to be there. He’s prepared a very special place for you. Will you accept God’s free gift of salvation?